Uniquely Filipino, the Philippine water buffalo (carabao)
The Philippine water buffalo, or carabao plays an important role to the lives of countryside-dwelling Filipinos. It is one of the most important animals in the country especially in agriculture.
The carabao is a domesticated subspecies of the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalus). In the Philippines, as is in Guam, and various parts of Southeast Asia, these gentle but hard-working animals are largely used by farmers to pull plows in the ricefields and / or pull transportation carts
They are four-legged animals normally weighing seven to eight hundred kilograms as adults. They have fairly long gray or black hair, with tails which normally have hairy tips. They may look very intimidating with their long, massive horns, but are surprisingly almost harmless as they are highly domestic, having been domesticated in the Philippines as far back as pre-Hispanic times.
Waterholes filled with carabaos during hot summer days are common in the countryside. They are herbivorous animals, eating only grass and other vegetation and feeding mainly in the cool of the mornings and evenings. The sight of native herons on the backs of these huge animals in the ricefields during daytime is a welcome sight for non-locals, as illustrated below.
Its meat, when slow-boiled and cooked off-the-bone, mixed with local herbs, spices and vegetables to form a rich, thick stew is a favorite dish among locals. Its milk is used for drinking and also to make local cheese. Its hide is used to make various indigenous merchandise.
On the average, carabaos have a lifespan of 18 to 20.
Realizing the carabao as a national gem, the Philippine government founded and created in 1992, the PCC, or Philippine Carabao Institute to study and promote the carabao as a multi-purpose animal.